When you think of Connor Brogdon in 2021, what comes to mind? If you are struggling to come up with something - anything - about Brogdon, fear not. You are not alone.
57 2⁄3 IP, 21.3 K%, 7.7 BB%, 0.94 HR/9, 1.13 WHIP, 3.43 ERA (3.78 FIP), 0.7 fWAR
That’s about the best way to describe Connor Brogdon in 2021. Everything about those numbers suggests that he was one of the more dependable relievers that Joe Girardi had at his disposal. He came up for a few games in 2020 and looked decent enough that there was hope the team had finally developed a reliever in their system. With 2020 being a weird year, though, it had to be taken with a grain of salt. Could he replicate his success over the entire 2021 season?
If you’re like me, you go to Baseball Savant, look at a player’s percentiles and hope to see a lot of red since red is good. On Brogdon’s page?
That’s what you like to see.
The strikeout rate could use some work, but so long as everything else is trending in the right direction, there’s a lot to feel good about with how Brogdon might fare moving forward. We can’t depend on the picture to suddenly declare him a success, especially with how fickle relievers can be, but sample size is large enough that we can pretty safely label him as “good”.
While it’s hard to nitpick at Brogdon for his season (he really was one of the only guys you could trust out of the bullpen), he might want to start thinking about developing a third pitch to at least show hitters.
His changeup was his offspeed pitch of choice, using it ~35% of the time. Hitters didn’t do much with it in 2021 (.253 SLG against it), he also saw his whiff rate decline sharply against the changeup compared to his 2020 season.
Since that’s the one he uses the most to try and get outs with, he had better improve with that pitch or else things might change in the slugging against department.
The best way to get better would be to try and get something different for hitters to look at. You can see that he’s using a cutter as a third pitch (19.2% usage in 2021), but the whiff rate on that pitch decline just as sharply for him last season. Something the team might want to work on as far as pitch design would be to convert that cutter into a slider, something with a little more vertical break to it. Should he be able to add that into his arsenal, it would give the hitters another pitch to think about in the box, making the changeup that much more effective.
Until he shows otherwise, Brogdon is going to be a member of the bullpen. He’s young, he’s cheap and he’s good. Music to John Middleton’s ears.
Final grade: B
Brogdon can still improve. He’s young enough that there might be another step forward in his development. So long as he doesn’t take a step in the opposite direction, if he remains this good for the rest of his career, that’s a valuable piece to have on the team.